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    Dartplayer Dot Net :: View topic - The Thorn Report
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    The Thorn Report
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    Post new topic   Reply to topic    Dartplayer Dot Net Forum Index -> PORTLAND AREA Dart Association (PADA)
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    Thorn
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    Joined: Jun 02, 2006
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    PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Mt. Hood. Let's call it Mt. Robin Hood for darting reasons...



    The US Ski Team is practicing up there--look close--on Palmer Glacier for the 2010 Olympics up in Whistler...(Say, why couldn't darts be a winter olympic sport, eh? Anyone thought of that, eh?)

    This little gem is Little Crater Lake, a killer deep still clear cool blue hole on the slopes of Hood. Great place to get that calm focus feeling. You know, like when the trips seem big as boxcars...



    Just thought I'd share a couple more of the awesome sights between my last post and this one...


    FRIDAY BLIND DRAWS AT THE A&L....

    If you've never been, you gotta go. I've gone at least thrice this summer. Great people, good mix of ability. The owner is extremely supportive of darts, the staff rocks, the food's grub, the beer's cheap. All run by local legend lady of darts, Dee--she usually brings some snacks too! Had a really good turnout three weeks ago...





    Lots of familiar folk, and new players seem to be joining the Portland dart scene every week...

    I've hit, well...almost a ton of ton80's in my days, but very few in any organized event. Even hitting a maximum at a little shoot like Dee's is still an accomplishment for me...





    Managed to win the finals that night too. Managed to lose the finals a couple weeks later. But, as usual around the Rose City, the matches, my partners, and my opponents were great. Such fun around this town...

    Over and double out.
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    Last edited by Thorn on Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Thorn
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    PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2009 1:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    SOLID SINGLES...

    Besides a growing dart scene, besides new players in town, and besides more soft tippers joining in, the best thing to happen in and around the PADA in the last year has been the singles leagues. Thanks to SEWAnauts like Thomas, SOUPR, Isaac and ChristinaO, and others, and the push they gave it...

    The new format gives everyone a pretty fair chance of winning some money, the competition levels are high, and I know the PADA board is looking to formally add a singles league to the Fall and Spring seasons. Cool...

    Tonight is the big Portland Singles League payout party--an A/B draw of all the participating players for the big money. But last week was the division playoffs, where the top four fought through the semis and finals in one night, claiming a little bonus cash and prestige...

    It's so cool I showed up to just to watch and chalk and talk and click pics with some of the best players and some great people from the Portland area...



    Let's see...3 of 4 of these guys are among the best in town, one was a recent ADO rep, one's the new PADA director, and one is SOUPR...



    In the top division finals it was SOUPR above, and another awesome player in the center below next to ChristinaO...

    (By the way, if you haven't noticed, I decided long ago to keep everyone anonymous in the Thorn Report, unless they are SEWA members--I hope that's cool with everyone, if not, drop me a note in the Thorn Retort or PM me)




    There were great games and players everywhere--five leveled divisions, the top three played first-to-6-legs, the bottom two played first-to-4-legs...






    I don't know all the results--and really, it was mostly for pride last week. Tonight is the big money. But, I do know that after most folks had left, and I was leaving, a young SEWAnaut named Isaac, shooting below, battled back from two 1-3 deficits to win his division. And, although SOUPR took second in the top division--he's so pro-darts, he's chalking like a class act--while his victorious opponent is getting blurry on one of our prettiest SEWAnauts, ChristinaO...



    Great job everyone. Great league. Great show. Good luck tonight!

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE...



    I bet you were hoping for some South Caribbean craziness, weren't ya? Paradise, oches. That would be pretty cool wouldn't it...

    Well, I still have a couple of other rare occurrences to share with you first. Just some randomness from the junk drawer, a week or more before I blew off to Puerto Rico...

    And, a special report from my teammate and part time scoop hunter, Bonesy, of the two-time undefeated Portland Thorns, after his trip to one of America's dart meccas...Boston, Massachusetts--and he found some serious action--all thanks to some venue advice from fellow SEWAnauts...

    But first, here's a "fun" shot. Down 60 and at least three bubbles, yours truly hit a single--barely hanging on the bull's 5 o'clock. Then a safe single at 9 o'clock bull. The third hit the DB, fell out, took the first dart with it, and as I skippy-tip-toed up and had the chalk in my hand, marking my surviving mark, it fell out too! Should that count?! If I had the chalk halfway scrawling the first digit?! I think I counted it...cuz that's one B I desperately needed...



    A day or two later, Isaac--who I voted to nickname "Icycle"--hit a hell of wire--the inside ring on the shaft of a breakfast-monster-attempt thing...



    And, while I was practicing back home, Bones was busting in Boston. He said the comp was immense, his darts were off but still he had a great time. He was loving the pub, and blown away by the number of plaques plastering the walls...





    Thank goodness for cell phone cameras! And, thanks to SEWA and its members, for helping make more moments like this possible. And, giving me something to write about that I love...

    Just wait to you see what I saw on my latest big "trip"...

    Coming soon.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    THE PORTLAND THORNS TOP SECRET PRACTICE CENTER...

    Cruise schmooz--check out this new news. For the next month, my teammate, Bones, and yours truly will be sharing a house while it waits to sell. What happens when two members of the Portland Thorns have a whole house, minimal furniture, and Fall League around the corner?!?

    A Blazer-colored bachelor-pad dart bar! This will only last a few weeks, when we both move somewhere new, more permanent. But, why not live it up? Nothing now but practice for the upcoming fall season...



    I just moved in at 5 pm today--we had this up and running within two hours. First, we found some paint, red felt, hooks and screws, in the garage, then fused it all together into two red and black backed dartboards.

    And, if two boards weren't enough, Bones' kitchen board is always open...



    There's nothing like playing double time with a friend in the living room, then going to the fridge for a cold brew, and hitting a bullseye or two on the way...



    It's oche-topia. I think I might put a board up in the laundry room...or the bathroom...

    Over and double out.
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    Thorn
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    PostPosted: Fri Sep 18, 2009 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    DUELING BANJO's...

    Dear goodness. My world is insane. Back to school, man-in-a-suitcase for a month, fall league starting, and living in the unforgettably awesome, albeit temporary, Portland Thorns practice pad! Beep beep!...

    On top of that my camera just crapped out, or the usb cord did. And you know me and my camera. Gotta get the no-upload situation fixed ASAP!...

    Not to mention nephews. Or football season. Or golf. Or tennis. Or kayaking last weekend with MugsAway and Clay, in a wildly successful attempt to keep summer alive in September (what an awesome float; I saw two beaver! They're rarer--and more skiddish--than you think. No pic. Sad Wink).

    And, I should be out camping now...

    I think my DEQ tags are expired too.

    Well, so you remember Ronny Cox in this scene?

    "I can't keep up!"



    That's me these days.

    So, no time, no tech, and the best bachelor palace in the Rose City?! And you want Caribbean cruise boat stories?!? Pffft. Here's what you get...WinkSmile

    I missed this shot from a month ago back at Mr. Smooth's; lost it in my digital picture piles. Just a little highest-on by Pitzer, a AA player this season, and exciting addition to the PADA board...



    But lately, it's all Bones and me, killin' it night after night, just twistin' the wires with more trips that Chevy Chase as Gerald Ford. Why go out when you live in the best dart bar in town? Around 400 games in 14 days, just bombin'. A baker's dozen Ton80's--Bonesy's up 8-3! (yikes! gotta get on that!Wink). Tons of ton-somethin's and high ons and outs and low games--literally stopping to eat or sleep because you have to; not because you want to...Smile



    It's like the Rocky-Drago training montage around here...



    One night, with our former teammate, Trifekta, on hand, Bones' upped his best out to 142, then a game later, the 160! Poetry...



    You gotta love true joy. Not to mention, he shot 300 points in 6 darts for a heckuva clutch comeback...



    Uhhh, let's see, what else. This is the moth we almost murdered. We got a few Mister-Miyagi looks at it the night before, but just winged it. This pic is from the next day--it sat motionless in the same spot for 24 hours, presumably recuperating...



    Another night around game 50 somethin', I managed to commit a darting sin--trying to catch a slipped dart, only to thumb the flight and stab my ring-finger pad like a syringe. And break a shaft tong. It was deep--you know, the kind where you whimper and try to shake it out and it kinda hangs there a second...



    Don't worry--I was playing again 5 minutes later. Wink

    Oh, and this just in from Clay--he's rubbing a Hood View Campground sunset in my face. "You should be here," says his iPhone email...



    So, cruise pics? Not yet. But I do have them uploaded and I have been organizing them. You should have been there...

    Maybe if there was a flood of comments about how much you love this thread and how badly you want to see the dart gold I discovered in some tropical islands, I might be a bit more motivated to start telling my tales...

    Here, easy access to The Thorn Retort: http://sewa-darts.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=5797&start=75

    Very Happy Wink

    I gotta go do some laundry.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 2009 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    THE FALL LEAGUE-LE HAS LANDED...

    Space and time. Time and space. No matter what, everything, EVERYTHING we experience comes down to that. When and where we are when what happens. Being there. Doing that. New places. New faces. New ideas. A perfect dart. The breakthroughs in time and space...

    The PADA's 2009 FALL LEAGUE is underway, but Toto, we're not in Uruguay anymore, and I'm a bit too busy to scour the stats and hand out awards and stuff. But, with the re-born Portland Thorns in the A-2 League, I'll click what I can for scoops and special shoots...

    And, good news! Got my camera giggin' again! Cord was bad, so I grabbed a universal memory card translator at the mac store. Mmmmm, universal translator...

    .

    They were all out of eludium pu36 explosive space modulators...



    But so, I'm all tech-ed up and ready to roll. Let's see, I still got some photos from the top secret PTPC floating around here somewhere. Ahhh yes, here's a new recruit, beating me and Bones her first night on the oche, with a slick 50out--T16-D1! Now that is out of this world...



    Meanwhile, the Ton80 battle-at-home between me and Bones is heating up...



    I got tired of my own Ton80 pics months ago, and now I'm getting tired of Bonesy's. Which, I guess, is a good thing. Yaaaawn. Wink But this was probably like his second or third that day, or something slightly more significant than just one--as of now, he's got nine maxims total in three weeks...

    As for league, I must welcome all the new players and teams! Second, let's have a look at the best new team names: O.B. Won, Oregon S*itty, At It Again, Calamitous Intent, Throwers Of Despair, Nothin But TroBull, IRDC - Celtic Tigers, Reb Bull, Short Handed, Pot The Kids, The Swifts, Scorpions, Whoof Uckin D'arted, Thursday Night Flights, and my favorite, Multiple Scoregasms. Those are always worth a chuckle and a "what they hell were they thinking?" Laughing

    And, a special shout out to the Hostile Projectiles who are taking their first season off in many many years. Let's hope they warp back in next Spring...

    In week one and two, we played one away and one home. First, at the Sellwood Public House against an excellent team of returning players, who, just like my team, literally are At It Again...



    We played well, but they played better--we got within reach by the last round, but basically vaporized in the final four legs. At It Again may be the team to beat in our division--you gotta keep an eye on new teams that teleport into the A league. Great first-week win gents, and welcome back!...

    Week two was on our own astro-turf at Cheers...



    The boys from Oregon City rolled in--another solid team that seems to match-up squarely with our squad. One is the owner of their home bar, the 505 Tavern, an excellent place to splashdown if you're passing by Main Street in the original "OC"...

    We knocked forty knuckles and had a great time blazing our way through the legs...



    Everyone got hotter as the match moved on, making for some laser-like games, and all players displaying their own style...



    I know I was impressed by our guests, and my teammates, for some stellar play. Great match gentlemen!

    Time and space. Space and Time...

    If you're a SEWAnaut like me, always exploring this quadrant of cyber space, you may have seen me mention somewhere that I touched a moonrock recently. It's true--a NASA truck filled with awe-inspiring stuff was at my school--a rolling IMAX and interactive multimedia space-race machine. They had a piece of the moon on display, worn smooth by the millions of terrestrials that have undoubtedly made contact with it...

    Maybe that's it. Maybe that's why...

    For a long time, the only two-Ton80's-in-a-day I ever had was in the Falklands. This past year I did it a couple more times; no, maybe four days total with two Ton80's. But, last Wednesday, while Bones was banging heads with his band in the basement, I shot four maxims. Not just four in a day, but four in under an hour. It could have, should have been more. But still, that's...



    Now it seems like the sky's the limit...

    Oh, and I'm beating Bones by one now. Wink

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW FOR SEWANAUTS!

    You're welcome to enjoy a video version of my latest adventures in the warm western Atlantic--a montage of my memorable shore excursions. Big thanks to Bones for the perfect song, the thoughtful SEWAnauts and contacts who helped me research, and of course, all the people that befriended me both on and off the boat...

    SOUTH CARIBBEAN 2009

    My darting discoveries? Stay tuned for the first episode of "THERE'S A DOUBLE-B IN CARIBBEAN, Part 1," Coming soon to a Thorn Report near you...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    IF YOU PRACTICE TOO MUCH...

    You probably don't miss things like last month's special event at the Sellwood Public House--the balanced blind draw with added payouts by the bar and league plus a rolling raffle hot-shot pot...



    If you practice too much you might be a solid soft-tipper going to one of your first PADA shoots who hits his first Ton80 in steel. During warm-ups...



    If you practice too much you might be a former or current Portland Thorns teammate, a former or current BD partner, one of two current board members, one of at least three SEWAnauts, a former neighbor, or a current housemate in the PTPC...



    If you practice too much you might shoot like doo-doo in flight, barely make a three-way tie for third, win the three-way shootout for seventh seed in the playoffs, hit a T4 to win one third of the raffle purse at the intermission, and then somehow make the semis and win more money you didn't deserve because you're in a slump from practicing too much...



    If your practice too much you might win the finals with a hot shootin' newbie for a partner...



    If you practice too much you might take a picture of everyone's darts--Thorns vs' Dart Bags--down at Cheers on week two of Div-A2 league night...



    If you practice too much you might break somebody's three season 30+ legs singles cricket winning streak. Or hit a highlight 100out on the bull just to make it clear that you practice too much...



    If you practice too much you might consider your house a top secret practice facility, play for hours on end, and conclude that "double T18, double tops" is the easy way to take out 148...



    If you practice too much you might take a picture of a perfectly gut-wrenching "ton eighty-floor" because all three darts bounced off the same exact nano-spot on the lower left T20 wire since all of the wires are so bent and twisted from the constant barrage of steel tips on the best of the three beaten-to-death practice boards you have hanging in your dining room...



    If you practice too much you might never find time to post those travel stories you've been meaning to post...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 1:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    OUTFITTING OUTDOOR SCHOOL...

    (I think this is worth a double post...Thanks again to all those that look forward to this thread of mine. Fyi, I'm still playing catch-up on material, but hope to pound some out in the next few weeks. Oh, and I did beat Bonesy 16-11 in the T80 PTPC contest though, Wink, $5!)

    I've just returned from a week at camp in the forests of Orgeon with my sixth graders--it's called Outdoor School. For those of you unfamiliar with the program, it's one of the most memorable experiences for students--a week away with nature and students from other more affluent neighborhoods--especially my students, many of whom are at-risk, in poverty, and have never left their own neighborhood.





    For many of them, it's a truly life-changing experience. I can't tell you what it's like to witness a young person--whose home life is surrounded by gangs or drugs or foster parents or neglect--become a leader among their peers, being chosen for honorable roles like the flag ceremony or tree planting, and basically seeing that life can be much more beautiful than they ever knew...





    Anyway, you can tell it's a moving experience to be a part of.

    And that brings me back to darts. One of the activities is archery...and one thing we always have in Oregon is rain; not the best combination.



    So, duh, it occurred to me that darts would be an excellent alternative to archery on those rainy days--just a board or two in the lodge, easy set-up/breakdown, and all the fun and valuables lessons darts can bring to kids...as folks like Rocky, SleepyKramer, DougM, and many other youth-supportive SEWAnauts know...

    Here's my idea. I know the ODS director, and many individual camp directors, and already spoke with them about the idea of getting dart board in the 5 camps that Portland Public School uses. They thought the idea was great! So, I'm taking it upon myself, and the powers and generosity here at SEWA to help me gather the 'goods' I need to donate boards and darts to outdoor school...

    I'm thinking softtip boards (maybe 10-15), softtip darts (maybe 10-15 sets), and a whole bunch of plastic soft-tips.

    Whose with me? My local PADA players? My fellow SEWAnauts around the globe? Let's get darts at Outdoor School! If you are interested in donating any equipment or in other ways, let me know in the Thorn Retort, or with a PM.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Well, Bonesy and I finished at 16-11 on T80's after 2 months of bombin' our brains out at the PTPC. He owes me $5 now but, since we both ended up in the same new house--the new and improved PTPC2--I'm thinking double or nothin'....

    Here's some T80 from way back who knows when. It musta been important if I took a picture...



    I'm so back logged on material it's crazy...

    The next day, let's say, I went to the ADO local qualifier. I did pretty good, made top 4, but couldn't have gone on to the regional anyway. Neither could SOUPR, who played his usual sparkling self. So we let another top local sharpshooter represent Portland at the Mid-Columbia V in the TriCities. I'm sure he represented well--especially since he actually won the qualifier straight up, despite our efforts to be spoilers...

    Had some women in the mix at the shoot too--which is always good--especially when they're solid shooters too...









    Then, let's say, the next day, my team shot against the number one team, At It Again again, this time at our house, the one and only Cheers--where great service and beers abound and extra boards, decent lights, and adequate chalkboards do not....

    Great match though. Another lesson from the first place At It Again'ers...



    Then, let's pretend, the next day, we had a match with the division bottom dwelling Naked Sharks--a much better team than their record. Anyway, they have killer T-shirts...





    And Naked Shark number one, handsome here, threw a stellar triple-T20 on me....



    But the Portland Thorns are having another fun season. Second place and blazin' and looking to "beep beep" in the playoffs. Honk your horns for the Portland Thorns...



    It's not often I brag on my own team, but I'm proud of how we've played this season. Teammates rock...

    Let's see, what else, what else...

    Here's another T80from a while back that was...were...used to be....it was a....some cool shot at a crucial moment or somethin'....I wish I remembered the story...



    Gotta get the T80 jump on Bonesy in the new house--at the moment it's back to 0-0...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    ESCAPE FROM OUTDOOR SCHOOL...

    For some of my students, a week at camp is like a month in Madagascar to me--a mind blowing adventure into a new place. For me, not so much--I just enjoy their joy. And, of course, the nature. But, even though I've had more than my share of world travel, and I'm Oregon grown, and camp is just 30 minutes from Rip City, there are little towns and watering holes out there--the kind that might hide some darts boards...

    Now, camp with the kids is great--except for my personal imprisonment. Not only was an after dinner beverage a no-no, but it was week one for my beloved Blazers. And, there ain't no cable at Camp Adams. But, there was a little internet. And, despite a spotty one-bar stolen signal at camp, by day two I had managed to put out a SEWA query about the nearby country town of Molalla, with the hopes of stealing away one night to find some boards and catch a fourth quarter...

    I also fleeced the locals for info--the maintenance guys, the cooks--and between the two sources, I knew of four bars within range; three of which were on the same one light intersection...

    And, a fellow teacher had a car. And a sense of adventure. His outdoor school name? Vapor...

    All we needed was permission from the director to slip away after campfire...

    Which we got Monday night. I wouldn't see any Blazers games, but at least we could scope for some steel tip...

    The first bar we found was fittingly called the White Horse, and had a healthy stud to prove it. Locals were coming and going--it was pool league night. And we scouted it out, asked some questions about the dart scene, and enjoyed some suds...



    Thorn and Vapor were two happy campers with a couple cold ones...



    The place has a timber style, wood pillars and beams, the crack of cue balls, some flatscreens, a footloose dance floor, and two soft tip motherships blinking by the back wall...



    A big "Ahhh" later, we flipped the tip and headed round the corner to The River--I forgot to get a marquee pic, but we did find a local, Rod, chucking some tungsten. We quickly ingratiated ourselves, borrowed some darts, and got some three-man games going--some of my first experience with soft tip. We played some '01--there are some real strategic differences when the B is 50 and you can single out! And a game of Hidden Cricket--very interesting...



    I noticed they have a mini-dart shop here along with a respectable plaque and trophy collection. I don't recognize any names but maybe some of you do...



    Again, the place was roomy enough for some serious partying and play...



    And, again, we clinked our drinks, downed 'em, and slunk across the street to hit The Spot, bar number three...



    All three bars were pretty quiet--just a few locals having a good time. Here they have a nice shuffleboard table. First try, Vapor hung won off the end for a four pointer...





    Behind the bar was a wide open space for bands and dancing and billiards. Two more dart machines hummed in a darkened corner...



    Alas, it was a school night, and we had to sneak back to our sleeping bags. We found no steel, and saw no Blazers. But three cheers at three bars, and some new friends and a few games, was just what I had hoped to find. I love the search for darts...

    Archery always allured me, but I don't think I've ever really done it. I got my chance a few days later during recreation time...



    Look at the form! I didn't really know what I was doing--I just went with my darting instincts. I only took one shot...



    Wait! That's not it! Here it is...

    Bullseye. Beep beep!...



    When the week finally ended, I was ready to play some serious catch-up on my game with Bones back at the PTPC...

    Here's a funny shot...



    Funny because of the build-up. I had just got done badmouthing God, three times in a row, one for each of the back-to-back-to-back bricks I threw. Well, I felt bad for cursing, so as I approached the board, I politely said, "I'm sorry God". Then Bones steps up, and drills the first--T20. (Remember, at the time, we're in a heated T80 contest) He throws his second, blam! Triple five. Well, let me just say, that, competitive spirit aside, the blaspheme that blurted out of Bonesy's mouth used to make movies rated R. I stepped back, for fear of lightning. But, I guess the big G got the last laugh--he sent that third dart into the triple twelve. How embarrassing...

    And that was the last pic from the original Portland Thorn Practice Center, because I moved that weekend into a new place.

    At first, I thought the it might be perfect for a couple basement boards. But it turns out the ceiling is a little low for going double tops--at least for a 6' 4" yours truly...



    Guess I'll be getting good at the B and below...

    But I could put a board in the garage...

    And guess who might end up moving in too...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sat Nov 28, 2009 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    AWESOME AUTUMN...

    This is the peak of dart season. Isn't it? Leagues plowing toward the playoffs full tilt; holidays, football, friends and family with free time...

    As it turns out, Bones and I are still housemates--and after three weeks, the all new Portland Thorns Top Secret Practice Center is up and running--a spacious one-boarder in the garage, but well lit, with stereo, frig, and fireplace, a TV in the works, and a one-eyed rat-killin' dog named Tilly...

    It's colder, but better than bouncing D20's off the ceiling in the basement...

    Here's the inaugural ton80 on a rainbowy afternoon...



    Here's Tilly...



    Why do pets always love to lounge in the bounce-out zone??? It's even more dangerous when you don't have an eye to spare...

    Speaking of dead eyes, here's the first one in the new digs...



    In fact, I hit that sixpack just before leaving for the Bragging Rights II shoot--a challenging scenario of talented out-of-towners. Thanks to ChristinaO, and the A&L, some of the finest shooters from the Pacific Northwest were ready to rumble...

    I caught some of the top players dialing in their gear and strategy before the flight calls...



    Dozens more were warming up the oches...



    I met more SEWAnauts like Lubenator here...



    Good times, good times...



    My fortune was to start 6-0 in flight and then, unfortunately, crumble under some crummy darts. But other Portlanders and locals fared quite well, even if they were outnumbered by guest players. Here's a handful of happy Rip City contenders, including SOUPR...



    Here's one of many happier players from Tacoma...



    It was a great tournament with a growing legacy of competition. Kudos to CO! But I was done and bummed and dragged my butt outta there in defeat long before the finals...

    Check the BR II thread for results: http://sewa-darts.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=16000&highlight=

    Another rainy day, the PADA director was allowed priority access to some fireside darts in the Thorn cave...



    Mid-month we finished up our A2 league season at the Sellwood Public House. And, between rounds, I had a chance to chalk a leg for some new C league teams: Dart It Up versus Pot The Kids. (Wanna know something funny? Pot The Kids is a typo--it was supposed to be "Po and the Kids")

    I heard some highlights getting hollered out over there during the evening too. Nice shooting! And, a toast from the Portland Thorns to all of our opponents this season...



    The Portland Thorns? We came in a solid second this season--we're looking forward to the playoffs and playing well. Beep Beep.

    You know, November's always full of nostalgia, like this shot of arguably the four best Portland Thorns of all time--past and present--knocking knuckles and locking horns...



    A saturday before Turkey Day, a friend sent me a photo of some of the usual suspects at the PADA Thanksgiving Shoot in Sellwood. Another successful special event...



    Meanwhile, back at the PTPC, a picture is taken of a seemingly unimpressive DB...



    But eyes can be deceiving. Maybe it's a DB, in the dark, first dart...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTskR9ocols

    And the fall rolls on. I can't wait for some white wintry whiteness. Hmmm, what kind of trick shot could I do with snow or ice...

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    20,000 READS of the THORN REPORT!

    For some reason, I've been watching the read count and waiting for the big two oh! Obviously, it's the proper time to say thanks for reading...sorry this one is just a little acknowledgment. But if it's any consolation, there will be some high outs, high ons, and deadcenters coming up, some league stuff some special event stuff, some practice stuff and new venues, not to mention I still haven't posted my Caribbean stories yet... Wink

    Spread the sport.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 12:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW...

    Another year come and gone, and boy, am I behind on the reports! I still gotta get to the Caribbean trip before I forget it. So, once again, allow me to throw a mega-blast of random dart related anecdotes from my adventures in Rip City--and clear the way for the cruise stories...

    Ahhh, Portland...


    Out in the garage, I hit my second highest out, a 164 with two T19's. Pretty slick...


    And another 170on...


    In the basement, Isaac was pretty proud of this smooth 114out...


    It's not easy for me down there; the ceiling is only about three inches over my head--my upper board shots almost always nick the roof. But, I've managed a few ton80's down there already...


    And a dungeon deadeye...


    But, all that hot shooting didn't come with me to our A Division Semi Final against the Poisonous Snakes down at another great local venue, the cozy County Cork...






    Isaac's team got the second to last laugh that night--and a week later they won the finals...


    This County Cork kid--with his mini mug and darts--gave me the last laugh, even though the Portland Thorns season came to an end...


    Over the holidays, my buddy Javier sent me an update on life in Latin America. Nice cocktail shirt bro...


    My sister had the family up to the mountain house for Christmas. Since my last post, her new pug, Maggie Mae, passed away. Meet her new puppy pug, Sandy May...


    I gave the nephews a board for the wood shed--well, it's more for me and brother-in-law--but they both hit a bull in some gusting frigid cross wind...


    The nephews gave me tickets to the Lakers game. And if you're a Blazer fan, what a great game it was...


    Always fun blowing out the champs and league leading team! Who am I kidding--Blazermaniacs would love beating LA if they were 0-81.


    Between the two big holidays, and all those bowl games and basketball games and watching all those dart championships online, my old friends Mr. Smooth and his evil twin, Mr. Crisp, had a birthday--the big "double-top". Party! According to the cake, they were Blazer fans a year before the team existed. Now that's loyalty...


    Another afternoon, a bounce-out managed to skewer Mr. Smooth's shoe--look close! He never even flinched. Gotta admire that kind of focus. And out back, my housemate's one-eyed dog is on guard for heat seeking varmints--so far she's winning: Tilly 2, Rats 0...




    Must have woken him up though--here's his ton80 a moment later...


    And numerous PADA special events. There have been so many I'm not even sure which ones I went to and which ones I missed! At the A&L...






    And the Triple Nickel last Thursday. This one I remember--because I threw a deadeye in the final leg of the finals! And still lost!...




    It's always fun going out to a shoot, or league, to see good folk who know how to have a laugh while competing to excel at their favorite game...

    It's always fun being with friends and family, enjoying the traditions of your home town, in and around some friendly games in the garage...

    It's always fun sharing it with you. Thanks for reading along.

    Over and double out.
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    PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    THERE'S A DOUBLE-B IN "CARIBBEAN"...

    ...you'll never forget how to spell it now...

    If you know me, you know I'm a school-teachin' wanna-bein' river-raftin' backboard-slappin' world-travelin' bullseye-smackin' story-blabbin' picture-clickin' Blazermaniac. A self proclaimed "Indiana Jones of darts" from Rip City, Oregon--and I'm always on the hunt for another adventure that combines the magic of nature, history, culture...and darts. Across continents and mountains, over rivers and oceans--heck, even just down the block--I'm keeping a dead-eye out for any sign of an oche...


    This time, it's to the South Caribbean...


    (I actually got several cool shots like this from the plane)

    It started six months ago in late August, after months of wanderlust fever and constantly scanning the horizon for new lands. I scouted cruises in regions I could reach cheaply, hoping for an itinerary to match. I found it in a seven-day carnival aboard the Victory: Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and back. It had new places and thrills I thirst for--tropical islands, coral reefs, blinding beaches, dripping jungles, looming volcanoes, a mixed history, and the maritime mystery of ports, pirates, rum and gold... in hurricane season...


    (Off to the right there, that's where we're going)

    Watching the discounts deepen every day on my trusty computer, I waited until the last nervous moment before taking the plunge, the one step that turns "I want to" into "I am". With a week to spare, I bit the bait: a two-stop red-eye and solo stateroom for under a grand. Touching my thumb to fingers, I figured another five hundred in play money. Turns out I was right, about $1500 total...give or take $250, as you'll see...

    (by the way, if anyone wants advice on doing affordable adventures like this--or maybe you might want to join me next time?--just send me a private message)

    But, weeks before, I was head down in the internet, researching. Sending out cyber signals to any island bar owner, any dart player or SEWAnaut that could help me find the X's on my dart treasure map. Past adventures have taught me that making direct contact with a darting native, and asking them to put out the war cry, is best. But, I mostly found old dead league pages, dusty tourney pdf's, dormant websites, and deaf emails to pubs. Then, a reply came. Then another. A bar owner. A blogger. Even John Lowe wrote me back. Soon, I had a vague plan for most islands, and a name or number or two. Of course, I knew my biggest adversary: the boat's schedule, which is basically arrive at 10am , depart at 5pm--not exactly darting hours. Not to mention, I had jungles and beaches to explore...

    (by the way again, I'm eternally grateful to everyone that helped me research. I guess you'll soon see where I succeeded and failed to take advantage)

    Finally came packing day--a more important thing than you think. Clothes, easy. Sandals, shorts, shirts, hats, one set of slacks. Gonna save money taking my own mask and snorkel and collapsable cooler. Let's see, camera, computer, wires. Passport, no prob, been there done that...finally, the darts. Hmmmm. Can't risk carrying them on. Gotta pack 'em...sure hope they make it...

    And then, the day came. I'm lucky to have friends as unlucky as mine are--I think it was Bones who drove me to Portland International at 4am. Awww, that's his normal bed time anyway...

    Bag checked in, carry-on stowed, I yawned my way through leg one, Portland to Phoenix, aisle seat. Bam! The elbow...


    (Phoenix)

    Leg two, Phoenix to Miami, mid-row and next to a former NFL linebacker, and sporting conversationalist...


    (Miami)

    Despite a modest career, he managed three sacks and defensive player of the week in '89, now a successful businessman in California...


    (I dug up his player card, not bad)

    Third leg, from Miami to San Juan--Puerto Rico's capital and point of disembarkation--I enjoyed a window and another rousing discussion with a recruiter from Idaho headed for the US Virgin Islands. Tough gig. The upcoming Oregon versus Boise State game was one topic...


    (He sent me this from St. Croix, his post for a month)

    As usual, luck was already leading the way, and I landed alive at Luis Muñoz Marín International airport. No delays, no nightmares, and interesting fellow passengers. That is, until...Don't you hate that feeling when you're at the luggage carousel and almost everyone else has left? Well, they did it. American Airlines lost my bag, darts and all. But, after an hour in Lost Baggage, I was assured it would arrive Sunday morning and they'd send it to the ship...okay then, that's better...



    Shuttling to my hotel in Old San Juan, the historic heart and port for the city, I immediately checked in, and checked out the neighborhood looking for a dart bar. The concierge gave me a "maybe there" or two. But sixteen hours of airplanes meant dinner first, and, of course, a local beer...



    The narrow cobble streets were crammed with pedestrians gearing up for the night life. Iron balconies with slender shutter doors poked out of the colorful ornate facades, old-worldly and colonial. Vendors and parrots shopped for tourist dollars...

    Around the block, I found this place, with high hopes of a board hidden in one of the crowded corners upstairs...



    Alas, nothing there but fun folk, exuberant local youth and belligerent tourists alike, shooting pool, partying, and getting more bilingual with each cocktail...



    I hung out for a few more brews, interrogating the bartender about dart bars in other barrios, and looking for clues on the wall from possible dartboards past. But without much energy left, and looking pretty scrappy in my day old airplane duds--a tattered PADA dart shirt, shorts and flip flops--I decided to enjoy the AC in my room, rest up, rise early, and power walk the old city and fort, sans humidity...

    After all, I knew I had an extra night in San Juan after the cruise--and another chance to search for oches in Puerto Rico...

    I sure hope my bag is on the boat tomorrow. Don't worry, I told myself, you're a lucky guy...
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    PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 2

    I woke up feeling refreshed. Unfortunately, I had to wash my only set of clothes in the shower. Fortunately, I did that the night before. So, I donned my entire drip-dried wardrobe, and enjoyed a complimentary breakfast overlooking the Ciudad Vieja. Unfortunately, the food wasn't very good--even the "continental" parts. And the view was limited. But it was just a few hours until I boarded a luxury liner and hugged my lost luggage. And, fortunately, it was a warm sunny summer Sunday morning in a Latin American old city, which, is one of the most peaceful tranquil scenes you can find. Like there's just you and the quiet cobble streets, the stare of a gliding pelican on the sea breeze, or the mew of a stray cat. The rest of the world seems to be sleeping in...

    So, I would walk what I could--around the point's rim that protects the legendary bay of San Juan, to the 500 year old citadel, and back through the pastel painted buildings...


    (El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, complete with centuries of added bulk, and countless cannon slots)


    (The red arch is the original entrance. Imagine the clash of old world European soldiers, or smugglers, pirates, explorers and merchants)


    (Atop the point, the fortified entrance across a green field, that once was red with blood)


    (The Atlantic side, where residents squeeze between the fort, the beach, and the brunt of occasional hurricanes)


    (One of many cheerfully colored streets with classic architectural accents)

    When the walk was done, sweat was beginning to bead up and the sun was beginning to beat down, as tourists and tourism-dependent business bustled to life. Most folk, we're heading to the ship like me. So, after another last chance reassurance call to American Airlines to make doubly sure my luggage would be on the boat, "Yes it will sir," I took another shower --and another simultaneous laundering. "Refreshed" again, I slung my comfy carry-on bag around neck, and ambled damply down to the sloping blocks to the dock...

    There she was--the Victory. Pulling people in her like an alien mothership...


    (13 decks, 900 feet, and 100,000 tons of floating fun)

    Confident my bag would greet me at my cabin, I casually waited my turn to board in the wharf's modern concourse. Finding a single seat among crowds, I sat, flipping open my new Mac, hoping to steal signal and check emails and SEWA . It caught the nearby eye of a lovely pair: a mother and daughter combo from Montreal. A question or two and a conversation later, we unknowingly started a mutually beneficial friendship--I, lone male, would have pleasant company, and they would have, well, a man around, and one that isn't the average ignorant tourist. Something they realized after a few South American stories...

    After a quick liquid pick up in the duty free shop, I slyly joined them and their "1st Group to Board" pass, and we passed through the air conditioned blast at the hull, swiped our new cruise cards with a "bing", and were aboard. We split up to out staterooms, to settle in, and meet again at dinner...

    My room, the best of the cheapest interior singles, was great. No balcony or window, but stewards and room service doing backflips for you around the clock. I was a little bummed my bag wasn't there yet, but I knew the crew was working hard to deliver thousands of bags throughout the ship to almost three thousand impatient new passengers...

    I was there. I made it. But I was still sitting in damp, two day old, hotel-soap washed, shorts and four year-old faded Portland Thorns championship shirt. Three o'clock, no bag. Five o'clock, no bag. Seven o'clock, no bag and dinner alone at the "casual attire" buffet. Nine o'clock, no bag, no friends, not happy, when the boat horn mooed and we began to pull away...


    (Back to front, the Atlantic, more fort, the old city, and port)

    Although much of my first night was wasted waiting in vain in my cabin, I did scout the ship and it's various bars and views and luxuries--alas, no dartboard in any lounge. Meanwhile, the purser's office assured me they were contacting the airlines and locating my luggage, hoping it will catch up with us tomorrow. So, I spent the night rum-and-coking through sunsets, looking for dolphins, making new acquaintances, finding entertainment and wandering the decks...

    Finally, after another round of shower-slash-laundry, I crunched a late night BLT in bed, with cookies and milk, before dozing off with my remote control in my complimentary bathrobe...tomorrow, St. Thomas, one of the US Virgin Islands, and a Corona commercial waiting to happen...

    Zzzzzzzzz.....

    I recently saw a show on Christopher Columbus. He discovered Puerto Rico and most of the islands I'd visit on his four expeditions in the 1490's. It's interesting though--a man who was praised for centuries but now vilified--he died without ever knowing what he really found or the incomparable impact he had on history...


    (Columbus in San Juan.)
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    PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 3...

    Sleeping was like a dream, feeling the Caribbean Sea waving beneath my bed, the ship shushing its way to St. Thomas. But, thanks to the combination of lost-luggage-rage mixed with a half bottle of duty free Bacardi, I slept in a bit more than your average rabid crack-of-dawn tourist...

    How could I oversleep on day one you ask?

    Been there. Done that. Did I ever mention I was a free-lance walking tour guide in Uruguay? So, the ins and outs of cruising, from both sides of the game, is something I know. You don't want the crowded lines or rip-off tours or missing the culture. You want to outsmart all of that...

    So, while the first wave of maniacal passengers disembark decks below, I got up with a yawn, coffee, and a protein loaded breakfast buffet above the sailboats of Charlotte Amalie's harbor--in my three day old clothes, of course...





    My two new Canadian friends weren't to be found, so I started day one alone. Pouring down the gangplank, past the omnipresent photographers, I blinked into the warm tropical sunshine. It was the calmer, second wave of dis-embarkers, who were nonetheless wandering bewildered between the curio kiosks and barking drivers selling tours...

    I scoped the scene, and checked my mental "dart map". My plan was to find Sib's--a dart house on a jungly hill, and the first of a few tips I had from my pre-trip research. But it was still late morning--far from dart bar hours--and there was plenty of time to find that white sand snorkeling beach...

    Using the same savvy that helped me scoop up tour groups back in Montevideo, I found the best driver for rock bottom, and a family of five to share the adventure with. We headed for the conch shells and colorful fish at Cokie Point...



    And, surprise surprise, Sib's was on the way! Alas, this was as close as I got. But, per my prior request but unbeknown to me now, my contact inside Sib's managed to arrange some top local players to meet me elsewhere on the island later that day...



    Poor me, carelessly wasting my time relaxing and laughing with new friends...









    I told ya. A Corona commercial come true--even in my salt-soaked faded PADA shirt...

    The driver dribbled us back across the island in early afternoon--Sib's was still closed--but it left me a couple hours to snoop around the port and keep up the hunt...

    Interestingly, the search for the hidden oches of St. Thomas started at Hooters...


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    PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 4

    But first, I had to see if my bag came...and my darts!

    We tipped the driver adieu around two that afternoon, said our nice-to-meet-you goodbyes, and I hustled aboard the ship, "bing". Alas, no luggage yet. Bummer.

    So, zipping back ashore, I strode to the nearest prospect for info and a phone: Hooters, a block beyond the port gates. Three or four bubbly waitresses and a phonebook later, I more or less knew there was a dart bar down the road. Amazingly, it was back inside the port! I shuttled a ride and found Paradise Gate...



    If you're ever in Charlotte Amalie by boat, Paradise Gate is way down to the right. And it's one of those super bars for tourists, a big wide space for everything that might keep a dollar-holding human occupied. Including a pool!...



    Inside, the wide warehouse hall has a loooong central bar surrounded by extra rooms for video games, billiards, internet, a gymnasium and more...



    Seeing the boards, I approached the bar, and quickly made nice with the bartender and talked darts. To my surprise--I had no chance to check email since yesterday morning--she told me two gents had been waiting since noon to meet me for some legs. Unknown to me, my contact at Sib's did just what I asked and sent word to some locals who were ready to do some Thorn-style international relations!

    And I just missed them. I'm still so grateful for the effort, and so disappointed we couldn't connect...

    Ahhh, oh well--it was close. Real close.



    The friendly bartender kept me company--after doing her best to call them back. But, the bar darts were gone, plus some super cyber geeks getting wireless in front of the boards the whole time. I didn't even bother to take a closer look. So I sat there sucking suds, making a friend, and lamenting my luck. No darts, no clothes, and no oche time in St. Thomas...

    Well, I did have an awesome time snorkeling for fish and searching for darts...

    Back on board, fingers crossed, but still no bag. Rrrrr.

    But I did have half a bottle of rum remaining. Yo ho ho!...

    By the time I swirled the cubes in my cocktail, the Victory bellowed, then whispered out of the bay, back into hurricane lane, and I went up on deck...

    Strange stone castles dot the islands--who knows when and what it was, but it's seen plenty of history, sea birds, boats, and nowadays, jet skis...





    I strolled about, bottomless cubra libre in hand, looking for sunsets and new nooks in the ship. I caught an omnipresent photographer off guard, checking her battery, and got revenge...



    Between the occasional dolphin sighting, I'd lean on the rail staring, or watch the trailing birds watch me...



    As the evening promenade party was starting, with pretty passengers on second winds appearing from the glass elevators, I began to realize how "Love Boat" this cruise really was. Because of the starting point, Puerto Rico, and a mid-itinerary stop in Barbados, combined with hurricane and discount season, and Carnival's focus on family friendliness, the passengers really were a television show: a younger, livelier, good-looking, exuberant mix of opportunistic Americans and affluent Caribbean Islanders. Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations and secret getaways galore. This was as far from a geezer cruise as you could get...



    At some point that night I managed to contact American Airlines--they offered me $250 "credit" in lost luggage--which I promptly spent most of on some overpriced tighty-whities, toothbrush, and tourist shorts and t-shirt shwag. I looked like a mascot, "Carnival Cruise Man"...

    But somehow, I convinced the formal-wear police, a.k.a the maître d' in the main restaurant, that it's not my fault, and found my new Canadian acquaintances and had a ridiculously delicious dinner...

    They had an excellent midship window table with a half dozen twenty-somethings from Jersey to San Fran--everybody was looking good. Except me...

    So I wowed them all with some of my stories... Wink
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2010 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    We interrupt this report for a special Thorn morsel...

    IN A BLAZE OF GLORY...

    Every Trailblazer game, the fourth quarter features a "Wear in the World" fan photo contest. Yesterday's pick just made me think of SEWA--it's the troops on a zigguraut in Iraq holding the red, white and black. Artfully framed I might add...

    [/img]

    Three out of five things I really like: freedom, travel, and Rip City. All it's missing is darts, but I'm sure some of them play darts too--maybe with some gear SEWAnauts have sent. And, a waterfall or some whitewater pouring down those steps... Smile

    So, this is a present for the Commandant and all the SEWAvets and supporters of our brave soldiers. They love and miss many things...

    Over and double out.

    Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 5

    It turns out my table was a hilarious seven course serving of a New Jersey foursome, a side of Canadians, and an Oregonian garnish. Every dinner started the evening round of daily-recaps to cabin-nightcaps, stuffed with with all the flavors of a luxury liner: shows, casinos, discos, sing-along lounges, and wandering the decks.



    I also made sure to meet Lenny. He's the cruise director. And, by luck, British. I told him my dart passion and my 'journalistic pursuits', and I asked about the crew bar--off-limits but not unknown to me, hidden in the lower bow in the employee-only area. And, although there was no dartboard above deck, the crew bar had one. He happily agreed to find time to take me down for a peek and a few legs later in the cruise. That would be something special...

    But, now, at the edge of Monday night and the bottom of rum bottle number one, it was time to call room service, remove my new "Carnival Cruise" costume to don a white bathrobe, and watch the blip on the satellite channel weave through islands towards Dominica. I read about excursions, and dream about what I'll do and discover tomorrow...



    This time, me and the mother-daughter duo from Montreal met for breakfast, planning to explore the "Nature Isle" together--so named for it's jagged jungle topography, and it's collection of hidden gems...

    But Dominica is different. Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Barbados--they all exude a heavy cultural and economic influence from the USA or the UK. With almost 150 years of independence, Dominicans are as unique as their piece of paradise...



    By now, between me and my tall tales of travel, I've got the ladies convinced to let me lead the way--"we'll work it, trust me"...

    With or without them, that was my plan anyway. Truth is, I really wanted some company, but I also knew that having more people would help secure a cheaper tour, and besides, a radiant mother and lovely daughter--they made me look good. They also got a friend, a sense of security and my sense of adventure...

    Slipping on our shades, "bing", we trundle down the gangway for day two...

    Instantly, head on a swivel, I'm in "work it" mode, assessing the situation.

    What's "work it" mode? It's getting more bangs for less bucks--one of my favorite games--the superior experiences that inferior tourists never find. But we all know cruises aren't cheap--sure, free food and entertainment, but costing thousands per room, hundreds per excursion, tens of dollars per drink, and you must tip your stewards. So, "work it" means I hunt the deepest discounts with the densest itineraries. It means I ask about on-board credit and get the cheapest inside stateroom--then ask for an upgrade as soon as I board. You'd be surprised how often you end up with a balcony or a $100 bonus on your cruise card. "Work it" means bring a duty-free fifth aboard and buy a bottomless soft-drink sticker--most boats allow a bottle or two, or turn a blind eye at the x-ray machines. And, "work it" means never, never, ever, ever buy an excursion through the ship--the price is always ridiculous and the experience is rarely equal...

    At this moment, "work it" means finding the best private driver slash guide for less than anyone else...

    First, you must realize that there are several "waves of capitalism" in your way: the ship, inside the port, and outside the port. The ship, "Wave 1", has captive passengers who are easily convinced that the luxury, security, and quality of their tours are worth the cost--even though they just contract local operators who charge a third as much. If you're smart enough to just walk off the boat, you'll find "Wave 2": a parade of buses and shuttles owned by those same local operators, who have pole position in the port, and who'll gladly charge you a little less than the boat for the same tour that was sold out on board. "Wave 3", past the buses, are private drivers in taxis and minivans--and, because the ports have limited space--these drivers have been here since dawn, waiting in line or winning a lottery to get inside, or have bribed their way inside the port. Nothing guarantees that these are 'good tour guides', but you can bet they won't settle for much less than the buses cost. Finally, there are the drivers that couldn't get in the port, "Wave 4"--they wait just outside the gates, trying not to get caught stealing business from that day's "port insiders". Somewhere out here is a veteran driver, who knows every neighbor and nook on the island, who has a family to support, who couldn't get inside the port today, who knows that any passengers pay more than no passengers, and who knows that a bargain price and great service often results in much bigger tips...

    I know this too. And, this wisdom will pay off in every port this week...

    Here's how I do it: walk through the waves asking every driver how much for what. This gives you a good reference for prices and options. I also try to find more people to join me--again, cutting costs by increasing your numbers. By the time I reach the gates, we have a party of five--we found another wise couple to join our threesome. Next thing you know, I've found the "right" driver and van: $20 per person for a whole day's drive, which today includes swimming in the Emerald Pool, the botanical garden tour, and snorkeling at Champagne Reef, with time left over to search Roseau for dart bars...

    Combined, these same excursions would cost around $200 total per person if purchased on board the ship. And, because those tours are so crowded and slow, we will reach every tour stop ahead of the packed buses and avoid lines, plus we have a real local to connect with culturally--not a robotic guide on the bus intercom. And, any time we want, we can change plans as we go...

    Real freedom. Real experiences. Real cheap. Workin' it.



    One excursion intrigued me--it was the closest thing the cruise had to whitewater rafting: inner-tubing the Layou river, seen here...



    Fortunately, instinct prevailed, and I didn't spend $100 to wear a wet suit, helmet, booties, and a life jacket on a closed tube in a one-foot deep tropical river on a 90 degree day, only to slowly spin around rocks for a half mile. The funniest thing--after seeing all the tourists geared up like their going off Niagara Falls--was the river "guides": a handful of locals who simply stood knee deep in the water in their tank tops, cutoffs and flip-flops, giving the tubers a push now and then...

    Instead, we headed into the hills for the Emerald Pool--a gorgeous waterfall hidden in dripping greenery...



    Tracking the trail down, we were among the first tourists to arrive--by the time we left, hundreds of boat-tour folks were clogging the path and clouding the pool. But we beat them to it...

    Ms. and Miss Canada and I dove right in to this treasure, the kind of place usually reserved for movies or the imagination...





    Back in the mini-van, we wound back through the palms and ferns, stopping to sample hand picked fruit from hand made stands along the road, before turning into the humble Botanical Garden. The flowers and plants and trees were beautiful, but this bus under a tree won best pic...

    According to our guide, they bought the bus for giving tours, drove it to the garden, and the tree fell on it the next day--the only driver it ever had was the guy who drove it here from the dock a decade ago!...



    But now midday, we made our way south along the coast for Champagne Beach, a unique diving opportunity, where, supposedly, bubbles of sulfuric gas leak up through the rocks from an ancient volcano, turning the fish filled reef into a surreal aquarium...





    What I didn't know was that--besides some of the coolest snorkeling I've ever done--the afternoon would not only bring us icy local lagers over hermit-crab races, but I'd find more South Caribbean dart bars...
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    PostPosted: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 6

    From Roseau to the upper roots of the Layou river valley to Scott's Head at the southern tip--we found ourselves at the entrance to Champagne Beach, staring down a long boardwalk that disappears around the bend over the volcanic rock...

    This ice cold Kubuli was enjoyed after our swim...



    For the second day, I'm missing the mask-and-snorkel I packed, and am forced to rent. But American Airlines said they'd cover that too...

    Curiosity peaked, we ambled down the planks to a perfect rocky cove. A few other snorkelers were out around the point, but otherwise it's ours. But, at first, the ladies are a bit tentative about underwater adventure--and it took a some cajoling. But, unstoppably, I'm already there--spit in mask, cam on the wrist, checking the drawstrings and dive zone, sploosh...

    Somebody had to watch our stuff, so while Miss Montreal soaked in the sun, Ms. Montreal trailed me out into the surf--I had her click a pic of me, still wearing lost-my-luggage clothes,...



    But first she took this self portrait--after accidentally holding the camera backwards! I love it when people do that, lol...



    We floated out over fingers of old black lava, heading for the sandy pockets between the coral reefs...

    And then, we found the fantastic fish...









    And, then we found the mysterious bubbles...



    Champagne Reef is truly unique. Wiggling ribbons of air with schools of changing tropical fish, strange streams of bubbles squeezing out of the rock, creating an unbelievable combination of aquarium and hot tub...



    Half an hour later, we returned to the beach. But, for me, only momentarily. Trading partners, the daughter and I dove from the cove again...

    In short, my new friends vehemently agreed. This place is amazing, eh?...



    A lonely fishing canoe paddled up to a palm tree as we dawdled back along the wooden boardwalk to the snorkel shack...



    The dread-locked man and two youngsters were returning with their nets and catch...

    And, you have to love island life...

    When there's time to take a break after work, to enjoy games with two kids, a circle in the sand, and a handful of hermit crabs. A few legs of hermit crab races...

    Feet crossed at our tourist table, we had just toweled off after some plastic-pipe rental-shop showers, and clinked a few dew-dripping bottles of Kubuli. Just sitting and sipping in the Caribbean breeze, reliving a gorgeous day, and watching the boys play...



    (If you're interested, I have some footage of the boys and their hermit crab contests, as well as fish and bubbles at Champagne reef, in a short video about the cruise: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqRKWehn4uE )

    But, if there's any drawback to ship-to-shore travel, it's the pace. Arrive by morn, depart by dawn. Hello, woo woo, bye bye...

    Accordingly, our soon-to-get-his-gratuity driver tapped his watch and waved us to the minivan. All too soon, we were doubling back along the shore to the Port of Roseau...



    By the time we thank our guide at the pier gates, we still had an hour or so to spare before the boat would blow it's horn. Time enough to search the bustling streets for possible dart bars...

    I convinced the ladies to tag along and take a look with me. After a few quick queries in the crowded mix of locals and tourists, I had a lead. "Just a few blocks down that street, on the left...Darts? I think they may."

    Hit or miss, we could at least relax over a couple more cold ones. Plus, we needed a store to buy another bottle of rum to smuggle aboard...
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 7

    In the end, Dominica would be one of my favorite South Caribbean islands--lush and colorful, rich and ragged--a glimmering jewel of towering green and sparkling beaches with a perfectly pirate-esque port and an Afro-Franco-Anglo mix of history...

    A place so special, it still harbors some of the last vestiges and villages of Carib Indians. And, a paradise so sweet, that it's home to an unusually high number of centenarians, who, I'm sure, watch the palms, waves, and sunsets every day...





    But, back to the hunt for hidden treasures...

    A few blocks within and westward, just beyond the outer buzz of tinkering tourists and trinket stalls, we found our quarry: a nondescript saloon, more like a small castle of stone and wooden shutters...



    Inside, we were the sole patrons, save another, a beaming local, full of conversation and friendliness . The bartenders, wiping the counters, just opening shop, were equally radiant. And, after a quick question, "Do you have darts here?", she took me down the steps into the back...






    Believe it or not, X marks the spot. Apparently, that pellet gun target hanging eight feet up the door is actually occasionally used for some sort of drunken contests of projectile accuracy! Not sure exactly what the local rules are...



    Meanwhile, the area doubles as a utility closet...

    But to me, despite the less than ideal set-up, this is still pretty cool. Although I don't pursue the bar dart question or inquire about local dart leagues, but just take some memorable pictures...

    After sinking a few cold drinks, we ambled back to the boat, passing the musical gauntlet of marketeers. But not before finding the local store, and another fifth full of fun--this time, an authentic bottle of local rum--for just under eight bucks!

    It looked even better back in the cabin with ice and coke...



    Especially since I still had no bag, my luggage still lost in the Bermuda triangle somewhere. The airline rep hinted that it may not make it to Dominica in time--the airport is humble and anything other than charter flights are rare--but I do hope it turns up in Barbados tomorrow...

    So, after attempting to freshen up, I fill up my cup, and start the evening stroll on the upper decks by the Victory's hydro-tube...



    Yeah. I wanted to try. But the enchanting smiles on giddy youngsters, giggling down the slide almost oblivious to the tropical backdrop, was entertaining enough...

    There was a long line of colorful kids and and chuckling grown-ups. And below, the deck chairs and hot tubs were bubbling with activity, families and friends mixing it up to reggae beats...

    Of course, there was another night of opulent dinners, ice sculptures and late night buffets...

    Sure, there were more shows, the comedians, the jugglers, the musicals...

    And more lounges, discos and casinos...

    But my favorite thing was the last walk before bed on the port deck, below the dangling lifeboat tenders, hanging over the railings along the muster stations, just watching the warm South Caribbean wooosh by in the night...
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    PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 8

    The bad news was Wednesday. Day five without luggage. Now my 'new' clothes are getting old...

    The good news was Barbados. And the best chance to find some real steel-tip dart venues...

    Why you might ask? Because. You know I did my research ahead of time...

    In short, it's British. Well, not really, but after 300 years of English control, it's well developed and wealthy with timeshares and tourism. To me, it seems to be the 'Oahu' of the United Kingdom...

    Amazingly--the internet is amazing ain't it?--after more advice from SEWAnauts and googling bars in Barbados, I found myself at the website of darts legend John Lowe...



    So, I clicked 'contact' and wrote him a note. What a thrill it was to actually hear back from the multi-world-champion a few days later!

    Adam,

    We use the Ship Inn at St Lawrence Gap.

    To make contact with the players contact:
    omitted email*

    John.


    By now, I'd discovered the big Brydens Darts Festival held each November--most recently hosted by Hawaii 501 himself, Wayne Mardle...



    Too bad it's August. But, I followed up on John's tips, traded telegraphs with some gents, and had my 'mental metal detector' primed to find some steel...

    After the obligatory mega-breakfast of course. No rush. I'll still need luck to find a pub that opens early and maybe get a couple hours of play before the ship shoves off...



    Fortunately, I didn't find much on the need-to-see list, so I should have some more spare time. Topographically, Barbados is a raised reef, rather flat and sparse. No volcanoes or waterfalls. The beaches are wonderful but sandy, well worn with sun worshipers and short on tropical fish. Only one excursion--snorkeling over a shipwreck--intrigued me. But I've done this before off Grand Cayman--in the days before darts--and the time and trouble seemed to outweigh the effort, and threaten my hopes for an afternoon at the oche...

    So, mid-morning, the Canadians and I navigated outside to wheel and deal with the drivers, and find a sweet beach near St. Lawrence Gap...

    Unfortunately, Bridgetown is a busy port, a hub of commerce in the Caribbean, surrounded by freight yards and warehouses, and a long walk to the nearest pedestrian friendly district. Plus, the economy is strong and prices notably higher. Worse, the privately owned minivans that cram the turnaround practically have a monopoly, and my targeted starting point, the Ship Inn, was a bit further than I thought...

    And I am on a budget...

    Quickly, I realized that $40 each way for a slim-to-none chance, just wasn't worth it. After all that research, the Barbados dart-dream bubble burst right there...

    So, the ladies and I quickly agreed that--for just $20--the nearest nice beach for a relaxed day of sunbathing and people watching with an icy bucket of beers, would be just fine. And it was...



    While the girls soaked up the rays, I sat back in the shade at the beach bar, chatting with locals, watching the star-wars scene of jet-skis, sailboats and para-sails....



    Waiting for the right light for a good picture, taking a short stroll up to the boardwalk...





    I love this picture...



    It's always fun spying on the guys pretending to sell curios, who secretly offer illegal consumables, hoping to find those more foolish tourists. I like when the police officers stroll by and say hi, as if both parties don't know what's going on...



    Nothing like some dewy bottles of Banks on a beach in Barbados...

    The day ended a bit early--nothing explored, nothing much found--just a handful of relaxing hours under a parasol...

    Back at the port, but before boarding, I spent the last of my American Airlines 'credit' in the duty free shops, adding a couple t-shirts, a cap, and one Mardle-esque palm-print button-up to masquerade as 'formal' wear...

    Having now hit the midway point of the cruise--3 and half days in, 3 and a half to go--I took this pic, sighed with delight and lament, and climbed back aboard the Victory, "bing"...



    Skipping the elevator traffic jams, I flip-flopped up the five flights to my deck. Turning the corner I saw it, there it was, a lonely black bag leaning against my cabin door down the long empty hall...

    I swiped my key and pulled it in like a cat with a bird, flopping it on my bed, unzipping it like Christmas, hoping that my clothes, my toiletries, my mask and snorkel, and especially my darts, were still safely inside...
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    PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN", Part 9

    Now remember, at this point, I'm thinking that my bag has probably been on a bigger adventure than me so far--who knows how many airports, runways, conveyor belts and security checks its been through, getting groped by strangers, trying to catch up with me...

    Unzipping it, right away, I notice something amiss. First, I see some water stains on a couple shirts, still damp; but it seems to just be some Caribbean rain damage--no big deal. Then, I find my dart case, which is open, appearing out of place, like it was tossed back in after being investigated, and my three precious equator-crossing darts are missing...

    My heart lurches with angst and worry for a moment as I paw through the bag--I find one barrel down the side. My first thought was, "great, what can I do with one dart?" Then, I empty my bag and find everything else there--my clothes, mask, snorkel and other necessities and doodads. Underneath the backing, I find a second barrel, caught in the corner. But, by now I figure the third dart either fell out or never made it back in, and I wonder if it was a tarmac thief thinking it was jewelry or a insensitive security inspector. "Well," I think, "That's two. I can at least throw two." So, with little hope, I carefully re-examined my strewn out belongings. Nothing.

    I was happy to have everything else back--but still completely bummed out about my darts. I sat in a slump on my bed to think a minute, and then let out a big "oh well" sigh...

    I smiled at my snorkel and clothes bittersweetly, grabbed my toiletries, and stepped to the restroom, to clean up my person properly for the first time in five sweaty days...

    Now, clean as a whistle and in my bathrobe, I stepped out of the steamy bathroom, looking forward to my choice of fresh clothes. And there it was...

    On the floor, below the desk by the wastepaper basket, was my third dart! It must have fallen or flung away when I was yanking out my clothes! I let out a little "woohoo!" and did a little "yes!" dance--and, unscrewing the lid on the second half of my second bottle, my previously planned "rum and cokes of somber remembrance" swirled into a couple "cuba libres of elated celebration"!

    And, despite the wait, discomfort, and heartache, me and my things were finally re-united on Wednesday night, plus I scored $250 worth of tourist swag, and have been having the time of my life so far...

    Completely giddy, I joined my table mates for another delectable dinner, but this time I got a chorus of congrats upon arrival--as soon as they saw my non-Carnival-mascot attire...

    Laughter, drinks and clinks, and story sharing from the day's adventures. The Jersey boys did the ship wreck dive and jet-ski thing, the Jersey girls tanned and shopped. And then, another silly night of wandering the decks from casino to chorus, and watching the wind swept views of distant island lights passing in the moonless dark...

    The ship is heading west-by-northwest now, still destined for St. Lucia, Antigua, and St. Kitts...



    I hadn't realized that Barbados, the southernmost and halfway point of the cruise, was also another departure port. So, about half of our Mardi Gras mix of passengers disembarked that day, and a few hundred energized new ones infused even more excitement into our floating party. Dance offs, conga lines, steel drums, shows and karaoke, the whole nine yards. All night long, Lionel Richie style...

    But, finding my last bit of self-control around 1 a.m., I retired, pouring out the last of my ice cubes, slipping under my crisp turned down sheets, unwrapping my chocolate bed mint...

    After all, St. Lucia--with it's waterfall filled jungle, gurgling volcanoes and hot springs, and pristine reefs--ought to be a busy day of treasure hunting. Not to mention it's British heritage...






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    PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2010 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "DB IN". Part 10

    St. Lucia celebrated its independence from the UK about a year after the first Superman movie. A year later, in the 1980 sequel, Superman himself flew in to find his favorite orchid for Lois Lane...



    Meanwhile, General Zod, Ursa, and Non were taking over the planet...



    Golly, you'd have to be Superman to see this bountiful place in one day. But we tried...

    Of course, we got a great guide and deal again--volcano, waterfall, snorkeling for five for a "ton"--and apparently our driver was a beloved old-timer on St. Lucia, as every local smiled and waved, "Mr. Peters sir!" as our familiar minivan passed...

    He took us to the best views and sites along the winding road, better than the bigger tours, and faster, ahead of the hordes again, starting with a "super" view of the Pitons over the colorful town of Soufrière, French for the sulfurous volcano that lurks in the valley head...



    We wound up and down, through the towns and up into the world's only self-proclaimed "drive-in" volcano to see some steamy geothermic activity...







    It turned out to be pretty much true! A parking lot, pathways, complimentary park guides and facilities await you at road's end, where you casually stroll about the muddy, gurgling, splattering, belching, boiling cauldrons of vulcanism and streams of scalding iron-sulfate trickling by like a creek...









    (They say this volcano should explode again in a century, taking half the island with it! Yikes. But I did get some good footage here, mudpots and fissures spewing stuff like crazy. In fact, there's video aplenty for this whole day at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqRKWehn4uE )

    There were also options to have a jungle shrouded hot spring soak...



    But who wants to get into a hot tub when it's 90º F and 100% humidity?!

    Instead, I found geckos lapping up bamboo sap...



    I certainly didn't find any darts.

    And, I'm wondering if I'll even have a chance to peek around town after our tour, and look for some dart bars, when a smiling Mr. Peters appears saying "Ok? All done? Come along, we must continue if we want to do the botanical gardens and coral reef snorkeling!"

    So, about noon, we reloaded and revved down toward the Diamond Botanical Gardens...

    Apparently--after I did some Superman II research--Superman had been there too.



    Meanwhile, stupid Lex Luthor was trying to bargain for Australia...


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